Automation Champion

An Unconventional Path to Getting Salesforce Administrator Certification!

One of the most asked questions on the Success Community are:

Since past few months, I have been pondering over these questions and thinking about guiding potential Salesforce evangelist on how to approach their Salesforce Journey effectively and efficiently. I still remember the days when I was in college and wanted to learn .NET. It was difficult, to say the least. Although there were few books available in the market, the sparse material was not sufficient to learn .NET.

Salesforce, however, is different! It offers tons of resources, documentation, white papers etc., to help people get started! Indeed, newbies are overwhelmed by the plethora of information available. So, let us get started on our Journey step-by-step. And, of course, welcome to Salesforce Ohana!

Note: – Only start the Journey if you are willing and able to invest at least six to seven months in preparing for your Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam – Read no further if you expect me to share with you any shortcuts – because there are none!

Roadmap

  1. Download Salesforce Administrator Study Guide.
  2. Sign-up for a Developer Org.
  3. Download Force.com Platform Fundamentals Workbook – Work through it thoroughly!
  4. Trailhead! Trailhead! Trailhead!
  5. Join Local User Groups.
  6. Be active on the Salesforce Answer Community.
  7. Subscribe to Admin Blogs and Piggyback on Salesforce pros!

If you diligently follow my guidance, you will not only become a Certified Salesforce Administrator; but, chances are, recruiters will be knocking at your door shortly!  So, roll up your sleeves and let us hit the road running!

Salesforce Administrator Certification Study Guide:

First and foremost, download the study guide from Salesforce.com website. It contains all the topics required to become a Certified Administrator. Pay very close attention to topics with the highest weighting – like Standard and Custom Objects (18%) and Security and Access (15%).

Force.com Platform Fundamentals Workbook:

Do not even think of appearing for the Certification Exam until you thoroughly go over the Workbook and complete all the instructions mentioned in this article including Trailhead modules and spending time in the Success Community Answer section.

To begin, cover the first ten chapters of the Workbook, in small bites at a time, on a daily basis, and you should able to complete the Workbook within a month or two. In order for you to complete the exercises, you will need to sign-up for a Developer Org. Bottom line – become a hands-on wizard! Practice! Practice! Practice!

In order to achieve the set goal – of getting certified – from day one, you must build a habit of studying daily for few hours.  As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! Good habits are harder to form, to say the least. So, the first thing to do is to prepare a plan.

I use Wunderlist to manage all my tasks or To-do list. Feel free to use any tool. Create a list of tasks, set a reminder for it, and include action items. For instance, as shown in the preceding screenshot, on day one, make a note that I must read Preface of Force.com Platform Fundamentals book. Then, set a reminder for 9:00 AM.

On day two, revise learnt concepts before starting new topics. In the beginning, study one to two hours a day; and then, gradually, increase the study time to four to five hours a day. By following the planned schedule, you should be able to complete Force.com Platform Fundamentals Workbook in a month or two.

Remember to schedule ‘time off’ in your schedule! To avoid getting burnt out, take Saturday and Sunday off! Replenish yourself and, restart on Monday with gusto!

Trailhead! Trailhead! Trailhead!

For a soft landing, make Trailhead your second entry point into Salesforce! What? Already visited Trailhead? Are overwhelmed with tons of Trails, Projects, and Modules in Trailhead? Fear not!

One of the better ways to approach Trailhead is to keep in mind the topics in the Salesforce Study Guide. Find all the relevant Trails (by using filters, as shown in the preceding screenshot) and Projects and list them down in an Excel spreadsheet, or use Wunderlist (my favorite). Then, be sure to make a checklist of the daily routine! Adding all your tasks in a checklist, and setting a reminder, will help you to complete your tasks on a regular basis.

Be prepared! Despite all your efforts, at times, you may fail to follow the set schedule. Be patient with yourself – this is a long journey! Dust yourself and carry on! Leverage all the tools at hand – checklists and reminders – to get you through inevitable frustrations and relapses.

Trailhead is a learning tool and not a badge counter! Therefore, refrain from approaching Trailhead with a mindset to increase the number of badge counts! Plan on completing two or three Trails a day. Take notes, revise notes, and practice the concepts on your Developer Org. If you follow the aforementioned advice, within a month or two, you will be able to complete all the Trails and Projects related to the Administrator certification.

Up until now, as per plan, you have spent three to four months to complete Force.com Platform Fundamentals Workbook and basic Trailhead Trails and Projects.

Few Things, if Any, Beats Networking!

Simultaneously, while going through the Force.com Workbook and Trailhead, be sure to join local user groups on the Success community and attend Meetups in person. If you have any question or doubts in Salesforce, use Success Community or Channels like Ask Salesforce Anything APAC (run by William Tse, Victor so, Megan Peterson – Salesforce Inc.), Getting Started with Salesforce Live: Q&A Office Hours (run by -Aiyaz Ahmed – Salesfroce Inc.) to resolve your salesforce related queries.

Comb Salesforce Blogs – Leverage Shared Knowledge Imparted by the Pros!

Caveat – take a ‘Goldilocks Approach’ to Salesforce Blogs. Follow Admin related blogs such as – adminhero.com, Salesforce Admin Blog. However, go easy on solution related blogs – these are blogs that offer use cases and then provide solutions for the use cases (like Automationchampion.com blog). This is because, at this point in the Journey, you may not have enough experience to understand the logic applied to the solutions; how the solutions were formulated; or to try out the solutions in your Developer Org.

Become Active on the Success Answer Community – This is THE Secret Sauce. Indulge!

Congratulations! Having gone through the above steps have made you a Semi-Pro! Now you need real hands-on, real world, experience! And, you will get that by login-in into the Success Community Answer. On the Answer Community, you can filter questions based on their types. Approach this gold mine, and mine field, cautiously! Do not start answering questions unless you are 90% sure about the solution (10% margin). Even then, solve these questions on your Developer Org first. Follow Community leaders (like Jeff May, Steve Molis, Deepak Anand Anand or Mayank Srivastava). Observe how they answer questions and try to learn from it.

Be on the Success Answer Community for a month or two as an observer. Eventually, you will notice patterns of answers and feel confident. Take the next step by answering basic questions. Be real! Do not copy and paste answers from the web. Most novices make this mistake. If you fake your way into the Community, you will most certainly ruin your reputation, trust of others, and the prospect of any opportunities coming your way! I learned the hard way – I hope you do not do the same.

Being a regular for three to four months, and an active participant, on the Success Answer Community, will boost your self-confidence way beyond your expectations! And yes, this is the time! This is the right time to finally appear for the Admin 201 certification exam.

After few months spending on Success Answer Community, It is the right time to follow all blogs that you like, example solution related blogs automationchampion.com, douglascayers.com, jenwlee.wordpress.com, www.salesforceweek.ly, etc.

Jobs

Yes! I hear you! You are asking me loud and clear – Rakesh, who will give me a job without any experience? I am glad you asked! Because I was about to answer the question anyway!

Once you build a good reputation in the Community, by following the aforementioned steps, you will not have to look for a job! Jobs will come to you! Yes, I am speaking from my personal experience!

Conclusion

Remember, dedication and planning are key to success. Getting Certified in Salesforce is no different than losing weight! If you cram your answers to get Certified, it will be akin to entering a Yo-Yo Diet Zone! You need a lifestyle change if you want to become a respected Salesforce Professional and Evangelist! You have to work at it for few hours daily – not ten hours one day and rest of the week not doing anything.

Follow the same approach for other Salesforce certifications – like Platform Dev I or Platform Dev II. Use Stack Exchange or Salesforce Developer Community to find real-time questions posted by customers and solve it in your Development Org.

The aforementioned approach is sustainable and lasting! It will be a life-changing experience. Enjoy the ride and I hope you mentor others once you have arrived!

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